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Jan 19, 2016

My Experience at Elements Float Spa

Maybe you've heard about Floating AKA reduced environmental stimulant therapy (REST) or sensory deprivation. I'll admit I didn't know much about the therapy other than vague images of 1960s sci-fi iron lungs and a loose memory of an episode of The Simpsons where Homer and Lisa go into pods and trip out in the darkness. That said, I keep hearing about Floating and all the amazing physical and mental benefits it offers, and BOOM Birmingham has the only float spa in the state (and region, I believe), Elements Float Spa. When they invited me to come experience my first float I jumped at the opportunity. 

The main entrance to Elements. Really pretty and serene.

Me before my float. I seem a little uptight, right? I wasn't afterwards!

What is floating? So there's this amazing space age pod filled with 10 inches of water and 1000 pounds of medical grade Epsom salts, creating an environment where you absolutely float (think like the Dead Sea). At 93.5 degrees F, the water perfectly maintains your body temp, allowing your body and muscles to fully relax, and within 15-20 minutes you're in a really profound state of relaxation. 

What does that mean? So our brains operate of various wavelengths. Floating gives us the unique opportunity and environment to subtly change our body and brain's chemistry, switching to the parasympathetic nervous system and Theta brainwave frequency. It's in these states that the body fast tracks healing on a cellular level and the mind becomes quiet and still without falling asleep. It's a meditative state. You're not going to be hypnotized or be thrown into some deep state, unless you want and allow yourself to go there. 

What does it feel like and is it clean? Elements Float Spa is immaculately clean with all the vibes of a therapeutic spa. There are two rooms for floating, each room with a shower, a pod and any amenities you may need. You shower prior to your float, you get in the pod and you push a button to begin and the lights turn off, the filtration system stops and it is perfectly quiet and still. If you have issues with being enclosed in the dark, you can leave the pod door open or crack it and you can float in darkness or with a gently colored light that you can control. There's also the opportunity to plug in your own music if silence isn't your thing. Also, they offer you petroleum jelly if you need to cover any open scratches, cuts or sensitive skin that you don't want exposed to the salt. (I have a couple patches of eczema that I did not cover and while it burned pretty intensely for about 60 seconds, the salt was ultimately good for it.) They also give you standard earplugs if you worry about allowing your head to fully relax and be submerged in the salt water, and there's a mini foam roller to place behind your neck if you need some neck support. 

Each float room has earplugs, water barrier for sensitive skin, towels, flipflops, a foam roller for the neck and more.

Cleanliness is a top priority there. The salt content of the water itself is 30% and pathogenic organisms cannot survive higher than 10% salinity. And when you're not in the pod, there's a 24 hr/day UV and ozone filtration system at work. Firsthand experience, everything there is spotless and I feel super safe. 

When you get in the pod, the water feels dense and warm. In one hour I never became chilly or too hot, though the air does get a little thick with the door completely closed. You can always crack it if you need to, but I really enjoyed the door down and the air heavy. When you pull yourself out of the water, it feels almost gel like on your skin, though still being liquid. Your skin feels slippery and super hydrated. Your skin and hair do not get dried out or pruney! After my float was over, I simply rinsed off in the shower, not using soap or shampoo. And my hair looked freaking awesome for DAYS.

There is a relaxation lounge for use before and after your session. It's really peaceful and serene.

What was the float experience like? I was nervous at first because I went in there with these expectations that I should slip into a deep meditative state ASAP, and I actually struggled to fully relax once I was simply left with myself in the stillness. This speaks so much more to my own stuff that needs the therapy of floating: I am constantly in fight or flight/stress mode. I struggle to turn off because of being overstimulated in my day to day life. My first several minutes in the float pod were marked by recognizing this and accepting it. I also noticed that with the weightlessness of floating, I could pinpoint where actual physical pain exists. It's a little freaky at first because without all your other senses turned on, your thinking mind rushes to the place where there is sensation. Once I gave up trying to adjust myself and accepted myself, fidgety minded and a little achey in the neck, I started to relax. I focused on my breath. I fidgeted occasionally. I reminded myself that this was my time to accept rest, to accept peace and quiet and the benefits of the salt water. At a certain point I even sat up in the tub and just let my limbs move around and I had this memory of being a little kid and pretending to be a mermaid in anybody of water I could get in, and the words "sacred bath" popped into my head and I smiled and felt myself actually relax. This is not a New Age experience, but it was a deeply personal moment for me and speaks to the fact that each float is unique to the individual.

When I got out of the float, I felt lighter. My joints and the weight of my body felt lighter. I felt pretty radiant and man, my skin and hair looked radiant! And I felt those effects for three or four days afterwards. I noticed I handled stress better, that my baseline was less stressed, that I slept better and that I didn't have the body aches I normally do. That's the minerals at work on a cellular level! Magnesium is a mineral that we ALL NEED SO BADLY but are frequently deficient in. The float gave me a superdose in it that lasted for days!

The relaxation lounge has couches, info on floating, materials for journaling and a beautiful offering of teas and waters. 

What are the health benefits? There are SUCH EXTENSIVE benefits. Here are just a few that have some science behind them:

  • Help reduce the pain associated with Fibromyalgia and MS
  • Lowers cortisol levels, reduces stress, increases endorphins and dopamine production
  • Improves focus and concentration
  • Expediates rehabilitation and recovery
  • Improves circulation, oxygen levels in the blood, lowers BP and heart rate
  • Increases creativity and problem solving when brainwaves shift from Beta to Alpha to Theta (relaxation state)
  • Can promote greater emotional wellbeing from hormone balancing, Theta state, lowering cortisol and any meditation/inner work you may do in your Float

***If you have acute health conditions, talk to your doc and let the Spa know ahead of time. Floating is beneficial to pregnant women after the first trimester. 

In summary, I get it. I totally get why this is such a phenomenal healing modality whether you're looking at it from a purely medical/ physically therapeutic POV or if you're wanting some of the mental/emotional/spiritual benefits, too. And I fully believe that regular floats (weekly or 2/month) could mutually compliment other healing modalities (physical therapy, exercise, meditation, energy work). I have heard some really amazing testimonies of long-term float benefits in the improvement of depression and anxiety and chronic pain. It isn't cheap, but there are packages where you get good price breaks. 

Additionally, Elements Float Spa offers an infrared sauna and you can also book an energy session, wellness coaching appointment or Reiki with Sheri Bagwell. I met Sheri a while back, and she has become someone I cherish very deeply. I recently experienced one of her energy healing sessions to address some adrenal fatigue and some deep rooted energy blocks going back to my childhood and it has ROCKED MY WORLD in the best way possible. I will be having quarterly sessions with her as part of my Sacred Self Care regimen. But I will write more about that next week.

To book a session at Elements Float Spa, click here. It's a super easy process. And be sure to tell them that Rugged and Fancy sent you!

So Much Love,


CommentsCategories health and wellbeing Tags elements float spa sheri bagwell floating sensory deprivation rest fight or flight theta brainwaves rugged and fancy holistic wellness

Oct 8, 2015

SECRET SOURCE: Healthy Hair, Healthy You: An Organic Salon Experience with Sheri Bagwell

This is me on a good hair day. And lately I am having day after day after day's worth of good hair. 

Here's a little background info... I have ALWAYS been borderline obsessive about my hair. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the first time I radically cut it off, my eccentric mother made me sign a contract promising to work in the potato fields if I didn't like it. (That's a real story and you can see the contract here.) I want it long. And I want it blonde. (Again, for the record, I am a natural blonde, but just not quite as blonde as I prefer.)

Here's the irony of my hair obsession: I only go to a salon maybe once a year, and it's mostly on account of the fact that the chemicals are SO HARSH for me. To get a really good blonde, I have traditionally ended up with actual blisters on my scalp and a migraine from the fumes. Yeah, that's actually what happens to me. 

Without options, it's just something I was willing to forgo because the end result, pretty and fresh hair that boosts my self-confidence and helps me feel a little more like me, was worth more than the detriment it caused to my body.

So that's the back story... Right out of the gate, I am just going to tell you that the beautiful hair pictured above was created without use of harsh chemicals, without blistering, burning or pain. And I have to thank Sheri Bagwell for it. 

Birmingham's wellness community is just beginning to grow, so right now you could call it a close community with only a couple degrees of separation between holistic practitioners, yogis, nutritionists, therapists, energy workers, meditation guides, etc. Sheri and I were actually Facebook friends before meeting over coffee one day. I LOVE her blog and had been reading it for several months before realizing that she had moved to Birmingham from Atlanta. She's a wellness coach, meditation guide, Reiki master AND SHE DOES HAIR AT THE ONLY ORGANIC SALON IN BIRMINGHAM!

After having a long coffee and talking about all sorts of things, Sheri and Studio Red Salon invited me to experience their services at a generously discounted rate. (I share that detail in the spirit of full disclosure.) While the decor and clientele read a little older, the results I got were phenomenal and worthy of being called a Secret Source. 

Here's the deal, the salon products have zero ammonia, zero parabens, are 100% vegan and the colors have no PPD, a seriously toxic chemical found in tons of hair products and cosmetics. What struck me immediately is that there was NO ODOR WHATSOEVER. Furthermore, once we got started, there was no tingling, burning, itching at any point in the entire experience before, during or after. WHOA.

I was super nervous about how the color would be and how I would like Sheri. I had this wave of anxiety come over me with the realization that I previously ahd only known this woman for a hot minute and I was trusting her with something really, really important to me, my hair. And let me tell you, Sheri was AWESOME. She totally put my mind at ease, recognizing how nervous I was and gently redirecting my thought pattern with some really awesome conversation about family, nutrition, wellness journeys and so much more. Let's be honest, a great hairstylist does great hair and great conversation.

Sheri's got it all. 

I also want to mention the salon uses two product lines called Neuma and Soma. I have been using Giovanni shampoo and conditioner in an effort to eliminate chemicals (though I do still use some Oribe Dry Texturizing spray because, DUH), but Giovanni has really sucked. And it made me wonder if natural hair care products just suck in general. NEWS FLASH: Neuma products are amazing. They get my hair clean. They give me moisture and incredible body. There's no weird smells and no bad chemicals, and it may be another thing worthy of calling a Secret Source. 

I mean, look at that. The cut is so good that she didn't even have to use a brush or curling iron to style it. This literally came from blow drying with her fingers. No burns, no blisters, no migraine. I walked out the door with a giant smile, my head a little higher with a great boost in confidence and one of the best cuts and colors I have ever had. At no expense to my health.


I highly, highly recommend Sheri on a lot of levels.

To book a consult or appointment, you can call Studio Red at 205.991.2099

To follow Sheri's blog, Living Well in the South, just click here. And to read her take on hair care, click here

CommentsCategories health and wellbeing style Tags sheri bagwell birmingham wellness living well in the south organic hair care birmingham organic salon studio red salon edenton secret source